The current state of high job loss and unemployment in Nigeria has led to an increasing number of Nigerians resorting to gambling, particularly sports betting, as an alternative source of income.
However, this growing trend is raising concerns about its impact on the mental well-being of individuals involved.
Instances of tragic consequences related to gambling addiction have been reported, shedding light on the severity of the issue. One such incident involved a 31-year-old man from Abia State who took his own life after losing N2.5 million in a bet. Similar cases have occurred, including a student from the Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro, who ended his life after losing his school fees and a University of Abuja student who tragically died after losing his entire school fees to gambling.
While gambling and sports betting are legal in Nigeria, concerns have been raised about the involvement of underage individuals in these activities. It has been observed that some individuals become addicted to gambling from a young age, with detrimental consequences.
A concerned mother shared her experience of her son’s addiction to sports betting, recounting how he would divert money meant for errands to place bets and later falsely claim that the money was stolen from him. She emphasized that gambling has negatively impacted her son’s life, preventing him from pursuing meaningful relationships and leading to financial instability.
Despite the revenue generated by the gambling industry, estimated at over 730 billion naira annually, some individuals, like the aforementioned mother, advocate for the government to either ban or regulate gambling due to its negative impacts. They argue that it encourages laziness and fails to foster a culture of hard work among Nigerian youths.
A psychologist highlighted the psychological effects of sports betting and gambling, including addiction, financial losses, isolation, cognitive distortions, escapism, and loss of self-worth. He stressed the importance of intervention through therapy, support groups, and treatment programs to help individuals break the destructive cycle of gambling addiction and recover their mental well-being.